Over the course of his NBA career, now in its 10th season, Clippers forward Marcus Morris has rarely shied away from an opportunity to get in someone’s face — from Joel Embiid to Luka Doncic to more or less the entire Cleveland Cavaliers squad during the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals when Morris was a Celtic.
He’s tangled with past teammates (Bobby Portis) and future ones (Paul George), guys on his own team (Jaylen Brown) and even his own coach (Jeff Hornacek). Morris even puffed out his chest once to a fan on Twitter who had called him a “fake tough guy.”
And through it all, Morris’s identical twin brother, Markieff, has created an almost identical NBA persona — never backing down, rarely turning the other cheek, and generally being the guy who players love to play with but not against.
The brothers’ support for one another has always been a constant, and on Monday, during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, Markieff was at Staples Center cheering on his brother against the Jazz. It’s not every day you see a Lakers player — albeit from a recently eliminated Lakers team — going out of his way to publicly root for a Clippers player, but such is the unfiltered nature of the Morris brothers.
It seems that at times, though, Markieff’s physical support only travels so far. A fact that Marcus used to start another feud — this time with an entire state.
Question About Markieff Prompts Swipe
Asked by a reporter after Game 4 if his brother would be in Utah for Game 5, Morris made it clear what he thinks of the state.
“No, he won’t be coming to Utah,” Morris said deadpan. “I don’t know if anybody wants to go to Utah.”
Whoa. It’s one thing to take on an opposing player, but an entire state? Now that’s swagger. And given how Morris and the Clippers have played of late, it’s not necessarily unjustified.
Game 4 was a second-straight dominating performance by the Clips. Aggressive and physical from the jump, L.A. brutalized the Mike Conley-less Jazz 30-13 in the first quarter and rode a 24-point halftime lead all the way to a 118-104 victory. Morris, who has suffered bouts of poor shooting throughout the postseason, was spectacular in the first half, grabbing three rebounds, deploying suffocating defense and going 5-for-5 from three (6-for-8 from the floor) en route to a then game-high 22 points at the break.
“It’s basketball, man, you’re going to get hot and you’re going to get some shots,” Morris told reporters afterward. “But it’s about staying level and not getting too down on yourself and just continue to go forward. If I’m not getting shots on the court, hey, do something else on the court that’s going to show my impact.”
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Morris didn’t show up much in the second-half box score (two points), but with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combining for 28 points over the final 24 minutes, he really didn’t need to.
“These guys understand that we need them to be the head of the snake and be super aggressive, miss or make,” said Morris about George and Leonard. “We go as they go.”
And go they will, now back to Utah for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. After winning all three games on the road in Dallas in the first round, the Clippers dropped both contests in Utah to start the current series. But now they return to Salt Lake City bringing a great deal of momentum, though without the services of Leonard, who has been ruled out of Game 5 after injuring his knee in a collision with Joe Ingles in Game 4.
Of course, Marcus, after his swipe at Utah, will undoubtedly bring a chorus of boos.
Noah Is Still the King of the City Slam
Morris’s unapologetic take on Utah may have been humorously harsh, but it was certainly not the first time an NBA player has drawn the ire of a city or state.
Morris’s teammate, forward Nicolas Batum, was widely criticized at the end of his tenure in Charlotte for not forgoing a $27.1 million player option in the fifth year of a five-year deal. Batum, who was relegated to the bench amidst a Hornets’ rebuild, played in only 22 games during the 2019-20 season and averaged just 3.6 points, but expecting him to simply forfeit $27 million out of the kindness of his heart was an unrealistic ask. Even so, fans resented him for it and rained down boos when Batum and the Clippers visited Charlotte for their third-to-last game of this season.
And while Batum has resisted saying anything bad about Charlotte publicly, the same cannot be said for Joakim Noah when it comes to Cleveland. Noah, who played nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, was anything but subtle in his critique of Cleveland during the Bulls’ first-round playoff series in 2010.
“I don’t know about this place, man,” Noah said in an interview with TNT. “I just stayed in my hotel room. Every time I look out my windows, it’s pretty depressing here man. It’s bad. It’s bad. No going out in Cleveland, man. It’s all factories.” All of which was more than enough to make Noah a hated man in C-town, but then he followed it up with another gem after reporters asked if he regretted those comments.
“You think Cleveland’s cool?” Noah asked the reporters. “I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.’ What’s so good about Cleveland?”
Naturally, Noah was booed relentlessly during that series and during each subsequent visit to Cleveland, something Morris should expect in Utah on Wednesday. And, like Noah, we don’t expect he will give a damn.